2012-06-23 Live Blog: Assange requests political asylum from Ecuador (Archive - Day 5)

This is part of our live-coverage on Julian Assange's request for political asylum. The most recent news is available here. See the archives for coverage of previous days.

Follow @wl_central on Twitter for all the latest updates.

WikiLeaks announced via Twitter on the evening of June 19 (19:40 local time) that Julian Assange has requested political asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

This comes after the UK Supreme Court refused a submission to reopen his case on June 14. Julian Assange has spent 560 days under house arrest without charge. His extradition to Sweden is set between June 28 and July 7.

Mr Assange will remain at the embassy under the protection of the Ecuadorian government while they process his request.

In his statement to the Diplomatic Mission of Ecuador, Julian Assange commented on his abandonment by his home country, Australia, as well as the threat of the death penalty in the U.S.

Ecuador offered political asylum to Julian Assange in November 2010. At that time, Vice Chancellor Kintto Lucas stated, "We are open to grant him Ecuadorian residency, without any kind of problem or any kind of conditions." (President Rafeal Correa afterwards stated the offer was not official.)

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa was a guest on Julian Assange's talk show "The World Tomorrow" this past May. The full interview is available online in English, Spanish, Italian, Russian, and Arabic.

Updates will be added as they become available.


Bob Ellis, Australian writer, journalist, film-maker, and political commentator, wrote an article detailing how Julian Assange is in real danger of assassination. He explains that it is not farfetched to believe this, as four U.S. presidential candidates have called for his death, alleged leaker Bradley Manning has dealt with horrendous treatment, and "assassination is American foreign policy now".

Jacob Appelbaum tweeted the following:

It appears that just as Julian is requesting asylum that attempts at physical surveillance have returned to my life. Classy and predictable.

Al Jazeera covered a rally held in London today against extradition laws. The protest highlighted the cases of Talha Ahsan, Babar Ahmad, Richard O'Dwyer, Gary McKinnon, as well as Julian Assange. Watch the video below. (Note: It is stated in the video that Mr Assange faces charges - this is false. He has not been charged with any crime.)

Julian Assange also currently tops Al Jazeera English's website.

[UPDATE: 23:20 BST] Glenn Greenwald has written further on Julian Assange's bid for asylum, commenting on the attacks against him, specifically from The Washington Post.

In particular, this sneering, threatening, blindly jingoistic Washington Post Editorial is a classic illustration of this prevailing media attitude: the democratically elected Ecuadorian President, Rafael Correa, is “a small-time South American autocrat” because he defies the U.S.; Assange and Correa’s criticisms of American foreign policy are “anti-American slanders and paranoia”; granting Assange asylum would make Correa “a hero with the global anti-American left”; Congress should punish Ecuador if it grants asylum by withdrawing its “special trade preferences that allow it to export many goods duty-free”, etc. etc. As always in American media discourse: Our Side is the Embodiment of Freedom and Justice and anyone who criticizes Us are anti-freedom haters (as President Correa said in an interview yesterday: “if we had done a hundredth of what they did to Assange, we would be called dictators and oppressors”). The Post Editorial also contains this amazing passage:

The WikiLeaks man claims, after all, that he is resisting extradition to Sweden because he believes he will be subsequently turned over to the United States and exposed to the death penalty. That no U.S. charges or extradition case are open against him is irrelevant to this fantasy.

He then lists numerous articles from the Washington Post which have stated the possibility of Mr Assange being charged.

We have published an analysis of the smears and misconceptions about Mr Assange's application for asylum.

Democracy Now! tweeted that it's recent interview with Mr Assange's U.S. lawyer Michael Ratner about his bid for asylum is the "most viewed". If you missed the interview earlier, watch it below:

[UPDATE: 16:20 BST] Ecuadorian Ambassador to Britain Anna Alban is due to fly back to Quito to discuss the matter of Julian Assange's political asylum.

With further discussion scheduled, it is unlikely we will see a decision from Ecuador on Mr Assange's application for asylum for at least a few days.

RT reported on the latest updates in Mr Assange's decision to seek asylum:

Cryptome published a collection of photos from outside the Ecuadorian Embassy.


[UPDATE: 10:15 BST] Filmmaker John Pilger gave a very brief comment outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London after visiting Julian Assange:

He's in great spirits... unusually good spirits.

Green Left Weekly published an editorial: "Assange is right to seek asylum".

Graphic artist @SomersetBean has created series of posters in support of Julian Assange and his decision to seek asylum. One set, entitled "Not Running, Fighting", explains extradition facts of the U.S., Sweden, and Australia. He has also created a number of large placards with various slogans and the "Justice for Assange" website.

Vaughan Smith was on CNN discussing Mr Assange's decision to seek asylum, the criticism of Ecuador's free speech record, the campaign against Mr Assange, and his status as a Western dissident.

[UPDATE: 2012-06-23 02:32 BST] Ecuador recalled its ambassador to Britain to discuss what to do about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. President Rafael Correa stated, "We are calling our ambassador back for consultations because this is a very serious matter."

A high-level petition from Just Foreign Policy has been created.

Just Foreign Policy also published a letter from Michael Moore, Danny Glover, Oliver Stone, Glenn Greenwald, Naomi Wolf, and many, many more requesting Mr Assange be accepted into asylum.

Dear President Correa,

We are writing to urge you to grant political asylum to Julian Assange.

As you know, British courts recently struck down Mr. Assange's appeal against extradition to Sweden, where he is not wanted on criminal charges, but merely for questioning. Mr. Assange has repeatedly made clear he is willing to answer questions relating to accusations against him, but in the United Kingdom. But the Swedish government insists that he be brought to Sweden for questioning. This by itself, as Swedish legal expert and former Chief District Prosecutor for Stockholm Sven-Erik Alhem testified, is "unreasonable and unprofessional, as well as unfair and disproportionate."

We believe Mr. Assange has good reason to fear extradition to Sweden, as there is a strong likelihood that once in Sweden, he would be imprisoned, and then likely extradited to the United States.

Read the full letter and see the full list of signatories here.

Australian journalist Phillip Dorling wrote an article, "Are Assange's fears justified?"

The short answer is a great deal of evidence - from the public statements of the US government, Australian diplomatic reports released to Fairfax Media under freedom-of-information laws, and disclosures in the pre-court martial proceedings concerning US Army private Bradley Manning who faces 22 charges, including the most serious one of "aiding the enemy" by disclosing classified military information. There has never been that much secrecy about the US government's determination to pursue WikiLeaks.

Read the full article for an in-depth explanation of the evidence supporting Mr Assange's fears of U.S. extradition and prosecution.

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa made the following statement in an interview published today:

In Ecuador, if someone had done one hundredth of what has been done to Assange, they would be called dictators and oppressors.

One of Julian Assange's Swedish lawyers, Thomas Olsson, says that the prosecution is attempting to use Mr Assange's bid for asylum to their advantage. He also says that, while Mr Assange would likely be cleared of all allegations in Sweden, his fear of U.S. extradition and prosecution is reasonable.

Julian Assange is "Truthdigger of the Week". The article states: "Few people have so fully devoted their lives to exposing abuses of power as WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange". Regarding his asylum application, it says the following:

Even though Assange has broken no international law in seeking asylum from Ecuador, some, including New Statesman columnist David Allen Green, have portrayed him as a fugitive on the run. Assange has inspired the hatred of many since he first became internationally known in 2010. Much of that animosity has come from journalists and news organizations who have failed to do what Assange has done so spectacularly in the short time WikiLeaks has been operating: Make people and organizations who do bad things in secret think twice about doing them at all, because someone devoted to truth and transparency might expose them.

Green Left Weekly published "the real story" behind Ecuador's support for media freedom.

When Julian Assange sought asylum on June 19, the question many WikiLeaks supporters asked was: "Why the Ecuadorian embassy?"

The simple answer is because the Ecuadorian government has been one of the strongest supporters of WikiLeaks, which reflects its strong stance in defence of media and information freedom.

Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlam says Australia has given up on Julian Assange. He discusses the lack of assistance they have provided, while evidence builds of U.S. plans to prosecute him.